|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 04:46 am: |
Results for Forest Hill can be found at http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/CouncilAndDemocracy/Dem ocracyAndElections/ElectionCountsAndResults/Electi onResultsForestHill.htm
Three Lib Dem councillors. Well done Philip, Alex, and John.
Lewisham is now no overall control with a Labour Mayor.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 07:18 am: |
Yes - congratulations to Forest Hill's new lib dem councillors for their deserved win.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 07:27 am: |
http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/CouncilAndDemocracy/Dem ocracyAndElections/ElectionCountsAndResults/Forest Hill.htm
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 07:35 am: |
Will the Mayor select councillors from the other parties to form his Cabinet, will they accept.
Under a directly elected Mayor system does it matter the make up of the council as the Mayor takes most of the decisions.
Could the Mayor give cabinet posts to the 2 socialist councillors or give the Environment post to a Green to give Labour overall council control?
Susan Wise was relected in Perry Vale.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 07:36 am: |
The results in this ward were predictable given the current headlines, both local and national,and largely congruous with mid term elections.
However I personally take no pleasure in living in a ward governed by vacuous opportunists who get in through the deficiencies of others rather than any positive qualities of their own.
I have not been impressed by some of the recent issues arising in this local authority however overall the Labour administration has served this community well over many years.
We have particularly lost a dedicated, experienced, and brilliant Councillor in David Whiting and this will be to the detriment of this ward and the Council. However no doubt David will be back at some point, hopefully here, so Philp, Alex and John, keep his seat warm ,(it'll need all three of you to fill it) but I can tell you now, you won't be taking root in this community. This has been a protest vote, pure and simple.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 07:40 am: |
Yes well done and hopefully we will see the promised improvement from the start.
Only 32% voted which is disgraceful - not sure of natioanl average but something needs to be done to imrpove turnout.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 08:03 am: |
Sorry, Domc, by ' promised improvement' do you mean we are to look forward to bankruptcy as is facing Lib Dem controlled Lambeth currently, or perhaps a £3 m fraud similar to that recently experienced by Lambeths housing department. Or we could even have fun trying to find large sums of money quickly to pay £12 m bills which were misappropriated- as in Lambeth.
Fortunately this is not likely to happen, as my nightmare of suddenly living in a Sticking Plaster Party controlled council did not transpire.
What the Polyfilla Party seem to have missed ( perhaps they stayed up late) is whilst there may be NOC, this does not actually put them in control. The NOC issue is in fact quite easily rectified by Labour through strategic alliances, and the real control is of course in the Cabinet structure, where we have of course a Labour Mayor. That bit at least was correct....
So on paper it may look good, in practice fortunately, you won't be getting much of an opportunity to take us into meltdown.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 09:30 am: |
... and it's precisely that kind of humble, open and warm attitude that has won Labour so many hearts (and seats) in the last 24hrs. Nice one, Roz.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 10:11 am: |
Why is "correct" that we have a Labour Mayor? He has hardly impressed so far.
Perhaps you could also outline how we have been served so well by the Labour administration in the past.
Rather than look to Lambeth, I would prefer to look a little closer to home - namely just the other side of Wood Vale - Southwark. Lower council tax and a whole lot more imagination.
A Protest Voter
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 10:42 am: |
Why anyone would vote Labour in our ward is beyond me. As far as I can see, I pay my council tax every month in return for no civic amenities, streets covered in dog-doo, a station that's moodier than a Cradle of Filth gig, poor traffic control and a lack of imagination to do anything about it. Perhaps polyfilla is exactly what we need to do something about the cracks caused by years of Labour administration. And having met the mayor at a work do last year, I can tell you with some confidence that the man's a sycophantic idiot.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 10:54 am: |
I am not being political in my hope for improvements and believe that this local election should be voted on local issues - so not saying I will vote for the same party in national ones. This is for a local mayor and local councillors.
All candidates made promises in their leaflets and I would hope that all those elected from whatever party will try to achieve those stated targets. We can only hope they do or vote them out next time. Unfortunately its not like business where people are judged on results on a more regular basis.
They have made their statements and so now must be taken to task on their achievements on them. That is afterall all we can do until the next vote.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 11:37 am: |
Is this a taste of what we can expect from the Forest Hill Society? I don't think I've ever heard anything less gracious. Rather than throwing your toys out of the pram how about wishing them luck and getting on with it?
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 12:03 pm: |
Speaking of the Forest Hill Society, what an excellent place for us all to get our views heard concerning the improvement of Forest Hill as residents, rather than as political debaters!
The Society, I am hopeful, will include members from across the political spectrum, who will be able to work alongside Mayors & Councillors from any Party.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 12:14 pm: |
That's my hope too Calvin. Just a bit worried that the instigator of the society is describing the newly elected counsellors (who'll she'll no doubt have to lobby at some point) as "vacuous opportunists".
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 12:38 pm: |
I seem to remember a thread "What has Councillor Whiting promised Roz?", that seemed to go on forever. Now we learn that Roz likes Dave Whiting!
With friends like that...
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 01:55 pm: |
With so many Lib Dems on the Council putting the world to rights, I would have thought there was no longer any need for a Forest Hill Society.....
Flattered I'm described as the ' Instigator' when my role has been and is solely to sort out the venue for the first meeting.......
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 02:16 pm: |
Way to be gracious, Roz! The reason that you might be seen as the intigator of the FHS might be because you started the post about it in which you said, "is there anyone interested in setting up an equivalent society in/for Forest Hill? ... So what do you think? Any takers?". Is it that you don't want a part in it now that you can't flirt with (Former) Councillor David Whiting? I think that the FHS is a great idea and wish I was civic minded enough to want to take part, it's a shame that at the moment you prefer to bite on sour grapes rather than stick up for the patronising views and opionins that you've previously posted in this thread.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 03:37 pm: |
I can not believe how many entries in one day and am really surprised that the Catford Kremlin is no longer under one party rule which I thought was forever.
Let the new people govern and sham on anybody who failed to vote
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 05:40 pm: |
Careful! The excellent idea of creating a Forest Hill Society might just be put at risk if exchanges about the election outcome get too personal.
Can't resist, nevertheless, making a couple of comments myself. Whatever you might think of Mayor Steve Bullock's politics, he is not a sycophantic idiot - and I think that remark (which I'm surprised the webmaster has allowed to remain posted) tells us more about the author than the Mayor. (And, no, I didn't vote for Steve Bullock).
Nor would I have voted for Dave Whiting had I lived in Forest Hill ward. Roz describes him as dedicated, experienced, and brilliant. Experienced he is. Dedicated, maybe, although to what is unclear. Brilliant? Please...When he was a councillor Dave Whiting talked at great length, but did very little. The world of Forest Hill is slightly better off for his departure from the Council.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 06:36 pm: |
If voting out apparently ineffectual councillors (and the mayor) is a protest vote, then I'm a protest voter. And proud of it.
The council needed sacking over the swimming pool fiasco alone. I am hoping for new energy and motivation from the new posse.
I've lived in Forest Hill since 1997 and the rate of improvement (I'm not denying there have been improvements) has been glacial to me.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 07:05 pm: |
What a shame that Roz is seems to be risking killing the Forest Hill Society at its conception by her rather petulant responses. The main thing is that the new councillors will now be judged by their actions (or lack of them). They deserve a chance to show if they are worthy of the very definite support given to them by the electorate of Forest Hill - well those who voted anyway! That's called democreacy Roz! My own experience of the previous councillors was somewhat underwhelming. When I complained about the loss of street trees and poor recycling facilities I had the distinct feeling that I was written off as an eco-crank. I hope that we will now see a reverse if the drift to rename the area as De-forest Hill. Good luck to the three of you and please don't let us down.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 07:54 pm: |
It is of course generous and correct to be gracious towards ones opponents, especially in defeat. By this token I take it that everyone on this thread will want to join me in wishing Steve Bullock the best of luck in his second term as Mayor, having received most definite support from the electorate of Lewisham.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 09:01 pm: |
Does Steve read this forum to receive our congratulations? He did well being re-elected as mayor whilst Labour councillors did less well and lost their majority on the council. This should make Lewisham politics quite interesting and I hope this is to the benefit of all residents.
I think we should thank Dave Whiting for his years of service to Forest Hill as a councillor. He has dedicated lots of his time over the years to the people of Forest Hill and we should be thankful for people willing to do this, from any political party. He has also been willing to discuss issues on this forum which is to his credit.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 10:42 pm: |
I think a thank you should go to Max Calo of the Save Ladywell Pool Campaign. The campaign probably meant the Mayor found the £4.7M for Forest Hill Pools and the personal involvement of The Mayor in the pools consultation. Well done Max.
|Posted on Friday, 05 May, 2006 - 10:47 pm: |
Michael - agree with your thanks to the outgoing councillors.
I guess being a councillor feels like a thankless task at times. This forum is good at complaining, but you don't hear many people stepping forward to do a better job or offering assistance.
|Posted on Saturday, 06 May, 2006 - 11:13 am: |
Thanks Lone Ranger.
I would also extend my thanks to the 63% of Lewisham that didn't vote for Steve Bullock, making him the first ever minority Mayor with absolute power.
How do you call it when the majority sits on the opposition benches?
|Posted on Saturday, 06 May, 2006 - 11:58 am: |
Despite the complaints and criticism of myself and Dave Whiting on this site, it has been a great experience, and honour, representing Forest Hill (old Horniman) ward as Labour Councillors for the past eight years. Our Lib Dem successors have inherited a much improved Forest Hill, not withstanding the current position of the pools and library. Thanks to past productive meetings with residents, the roads are greatly improved as is the town centre. Years of lobbying with the different rail franchises are now paying off on the condition and service at the station, and the number of derelict shops and empty private properties in the area are greatly reduced. The council will now be able to employ very recent legislation to further reduce those left. Our social housing improvements are in hand with investment vehicles chosen by the tenants and leaseholders themselves. That itself has taken over two years to come near to fruition. Whatever some anonymous posters on this site feel about what the Labour Council and councillors haven't done for Forest Hill is most certainly down to it not being in our gift to enable those necessary improvements.
It is reassuring to see the thanks to Dave on this site, as he worked very hard for the area. As to Lewisham council now having "no overall control", that is not relevant in Lewisham, as we have a directly elected mayor, and by definition, he/she is in control of the authority to which they are elected. Thanks to Loneranger for pointing out that I was elected in adjacent Perry Vale. As I've posted before on this site, this move was made for very personal family reasons and is not up for public discussion. I agree with Les, being a councillor does feel like a thankless task at times, but receiving a grateful letter from a constituent that you've been able to help, for whatever reason, is worth a dozen anonymous, often unfairly and sometimes unnecessarily personal, critical postings on this site. However, the positive criticism and constructive debate on this forum has been very helpful to us. Long may it continue.
|Posted on Saturday, 06 May, 2006 - 05:40 pm: |
Thank you too, Susan, for your hard work in this ward and congratulations on your success in Perry Vale. I trust you will continue to contribute to the discussion on this website.
Can I ask when the council reconvenes again, and when we are likely to know the membership of the Cabinet?
Also I'm interested in your remarks about using recent legislation to reduce empty and derelict properties. Does this include commercial, and if so, what form does this legislation take.?
|Posted on Saturday, 06 May, 2006 - 10:00 pm: |
Susan makes it sound like Lewisham's gone from a one party state to a dictatorship?
|Posted on Saturday, 06 May, 2006 - 11:11 pm: |
I wish party politics could be taken out of local government completely. We need people with a proven track record in management, not those seeking to further a political career - although I agree some do have more noble community-minded motives. I just want to know that rubbish is going to be collected, streets will be lit adequately and public amenities ( like pools and libraries) are going to be properly maintained.
|Posted on Sunday, 07 May, 2006 - 10:47 am: |
I did think the new Local Government Act did take a lot of power from Councillors and put more in in the hands of officers- is this not the case?
My own experience of the 'Council' is in fact limited to roads and rubbish- and probably a passive voyeur of great design and planning disasters. I am not a user of any other facility or service. It is possible that like myself,the majority of people in the relatively affluent home owning democracy of se23 and associated wards do not necessarily experience a good cross section of Council activity. There are less 'sexy' and less visible things going on, and in other parts of the borough, ie care home provision, early years support, Supporting People funding, environmental health, addressing child abuse etc,that most people will never find out about or be in a position to assess what is and isn't being achieved.
|Posted on Sunday, 07 May, 2006 - 10:54 am: |
Roz, thank you very much for your thanks, it is very kind. I do intend to keep contributing on this website, and will provide further information when available.
Loneranger, as your previous postings have been so informed on the political system in Lewisham, I am sure you understand how the directly elected mayor model works. Our constitution, drafted by a cross party working party, contains checks and balances to monitor the decision making process.
|Posted on Sunday, 07 May, 2006 - 11:11 am: |
You're welcome, Susan.
The other interesting thing worth mentioning- it got Lewisham a specific mention on the news- is the number of Green Party councillors - a jump from one( Darren Johnson) to six. I believe only Norwich has more- 9?. It will be interesting to see whether strategic alliances are formed with the Greens.
|Posted on Sunday, 07 May, 2006 - 03:55 pm: |
To our former Councillors I wish them all the best.Unfortunately in a national swing little account is taken whether an individual has done a good job or otherwise.
Best wishes for the future
|Posted on Sunday, 07 May, 2006 - 06:13 pm: |
Yes, Roz, you are correct. Both Brockley and Ladywell ward now have 3 Green Party councillors.
Brian, thank you.
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 09:48 am: |
Normally I believe firmly in the democratic principle that ‘the electorate knows best’ but I cannot see the recent voting in Forest Hill as anything but boneheaded in the extreme.
The voters of Forest Hill took a swipe at the inadequacies of the national government by voting to disrupt the work of a council that, while it hasn’t been able to do everything people want, has been efficiently run and in the main provided improving services. The electoral equivalent of hitting yourself on the head to punish someone else. They have elected three candidates who targeted Forest Hill in the belief that the voters there were gullible enough not to see through their specious arguments. They were right.
They have no coherent policies or action plans. Do people really think they will get better services, when the Liberal Democrats voted against the funding of improvements in the Council Budget, and against increasing policing in the area? In Islington, Lambeth, Harrow and Bromley voters have seen through them.
When their promises fail to materialise and the borough suffers as a result I hope the voters of Forest Hill will be pleased with what they have done.
As for individual councillors, many thanks to Susan Wise for her excellent work. There have been both negative and positive comments about Dave Whiting. Apart from his hard work for the ward over the years, in his cabinet post he did much to ensure that resources were well managed so that more repairs could be done and new facilities built. I hope they find someone to fill that role as effectively. Conservative James Cleverly says in his weblog: ‘The brightest local Labour brains are now kicking tin cans in the park, with a few exceptions’, a generous comment on the ousted cabinet members. Residents might also like to remember that when both the other councillors were going through personally tragic situations Dave Whiting carried much of the work of the ward on his own for some time. Roz says he will be back. Well after this would he want to? If I were him I would move on to something more rewarding than trying to please the Mr. Gumpys of Forest Hill.
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 11:53 am: |
Susan when the constitution was amended last July the cross party working party appears to have consisted of 5 Labour, 1 Conservative and 1 Lib Dem. By the nature of the constitution the Greens, LEAP and Socialists were and may still be exluded from the working party.
If recommendations of the working party don't have to be unanimous then its decisions are likely to represent the views of the majority party rather than the council as a whole.
Tessa Jowell ran the London campaign based on 'listening' to people. Yet from a position of having lost the majority within the council you are proposing to impose your parties policies through the power of the Mayor.
I think it would have been better for a non Labour mayor to have been elected so that humble councillors like yourself could discover how little input they have in major borough decisions.
Seeformiles: One of the aims of the directly elected mayor is apparently to reduce the influence of the party whips on councillors. The evidence of the past 4 years doesn't seem to indicate the grip of the whips has been loosened.
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 12:08 pm: |
Jeez, so much sour grapes on this site after "the people have their say". And not a little arrogance perhaps?
Can you really expect people to vote Labour at a time when the party is looking foolish nationally and when the perception is that locally they have given us a kick in the unmentionables by closing our pool and library? Beyond the binmen and the recycling (hmm) these are the only council services many people see. Rightly or wrongly Whiting and Wise get to carry the can for this as people want to see some sort of redress and this is the only avenue of protest they have.
With so many cheerleaders for past councillors and our esteemed administration then it's hard to see what the Civic Society will achieve; obviously it isn't actually required as Lewisham do such a good job on their own already!
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 01:10 pm: |
The main parties take on the results.
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 01:52 pm: |
How come Labour is claiming to have kept control of Lewisham?? They only have 26 out of 54 seats and the result is described everywhere else as "lost to No Overall Control". Or does the number of councillors not matter, only the party membership of the Mayor?
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 02:17 pm: |
Melissa, thank you very much
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 02:29 pm: |
I would just like to thank the residents of Forest Hill for the privilege of being their representative for many years.
I believe we made a good job of running the Council for the last four years. There was enormous progress on basic services such as refuse, street cleaning, road repairs, leisure and parks, and recycling. I take some personal pride in the improvement in the Council's financial position. We started this Council with a potential overspend of £12m in the first year. In fact, we have come in on or under budget every year. This year's budget will permit considerable development of popular local services such as public safety, adult education, and neighbourhood development.
Regeneration of Forest Hill has now started in earnest, though the results will only become apparent over the next couple of years. There will also over the next few years be substantial investment in schools, leisure centres, including Forest Hill, and other facilities, which will transform the borough and this neigbourhood.
All this has taken an unavoidably long time, and local events, such as the pools closure, coupled with some recent national publicity, created a fairly difficult political situation.
I can assure James Cleverley that I will not be kicking tins around any of our parks. Firstly, I have a business to run, to which I will be able to give a little more attention, and secondly, as, due the efforts of our contractor, Glendales, and our parks team, we have parks of a very high standard (more green flag parks than any other London borough) - there aren't any tins to kick!
Finally, I wish Forest Hill well. I intend to play an active part in local life, though I will be taking a few months off from active engagement.
Best wishes to you all,
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 06:11 pm: |
Perhaps it is arrogant, as Hilltopgeneral says, to point out that the voters of Forest Hill do not seem to understand the concept of 'temporary'. The library was closed for a short time for essential safety work and is already open again. The swimming pool was patched up as well as it could be and kept open in response to local demand. It is now closed for refurbishment to stop bits of it falling off and killing people. Is that what Hilltopgeneral would want?
The developments now taking place in Forest Hill have in most cases taken years of preparation and negotiation to get going. If things start to look better over the next couple of years the Liberal Democrats will no doubt claim the credit for all that. If people have got what they want, fine, that's democracy, but at least give credit where it's due.
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 09:20 pm: |
Oh come on, don't be silly. What I would want is for the building to be competently maintained so that it does not have to close unexpectedly.
If anyone can fill me in on what it is that's the pipeline in terms of regeneration for FH, I would be grateful (seriously).
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 10:47 pm: |
Melissa surely you must question why the pools were allowed to get into such a terrible state that the roof was in danger of falling on people? I don't know whether you used it or not, but I did - at least 3 times a week for the last few years and out of all the pools I've been to across London it was the most shabby and neglected. That's shameful.
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 10:51 pm: |
I don't think it is possible to 'maintain' a Victorian building with quite serious problems without closing it, but someone with better knowledge of architectural issues would have to confirm that. As I understand it, the Council did what repairs it could while keeping the pools open, which was what people wanted. Now it's no longer possible to do that because the safety issues are too serious. You can't please everyone.
As for regeneration, again someone with more detailed knowledge than I ought to comment. But Sainsbury's and surroundings are now up and running and people seem pleased with the development. The East London line is definite, with all the links to Olympics developments(whatever you may think about them). Pools and library will be refurbished, as already discussed. So I understand will Forest Hill and Sydenham schools. There will be business and residential developments in the Dartmouth Road area (Phoenix Yard and Crown Graphics sites). I believe there are moves to develop the Finches site. Well it's a start and if anyone knows more, please add.
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 11:03 pm: |
Melissa, most of the time even the toilets didn't flush at FH pools ( as just one example) so even basic maintenance simply wasn't being carried out. And you mention the building has serious problems - yes it has - but that's because of years of neglect. I currently use 2 other old style Victorian pools - both of which are properly maintained in spite of their advanced ages. It can be done.
|Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 11:27 pm: |
"I don't think it is possible to 'maintain' a Victorian building with quite serious problems without closing it..."
Thousands of owners and tenants of Victorian buildings around this city would probably disagree...quite a proportion of our building stock is from this time and much of it seems to be lasting quite well.
However, care and attention is required. The idea is, of course, to carry out regular inspections and maintenance and rectify the small items of maintenance before they become major items. This actually costs less but presupposes a certain level of competence and/or the absence of any hidden agenda.
I work in and am professionally qualified in the property sector but this footnote is superfluous when the neglect was as obvious and negligent as Seeformiles describes.
All the regeneration Melissa describes is commercially driven. Whilst Lewisham may deserve some credit for "facilitating" this (sorry to all defenders of proper English), "permitting" may possibly be a better description of their role. These are all the sort of commonplace developments to be found anywhere, usually more widely, and TfL is corporately far from stupid and thinks for itself.
|Posted on Tuesday, 09 May, 2006 - 12:23 pm: |
According to the Mayor's website he was a councillor from 1982 - 1998. During which time he was Chair of Finance, Leisure and Deputy Leader. He was also Leader of the council from 1988-1993.
The former Deputy Mayor was a councillor for 20 years.
It's fair to say they had an input and connection with many of the council's decisions which have led to situations that the council now say need improving or correcting.
|Posted on Wednesday, 10 May, 2006 - 06:23 pm: |
News Shopper is reporting rumours that the Mayor has asked Conservative Barrie Anderson to join his cabinet.
|Posted on Wednesday, 10 May, 2006 - 11:35 pm: |
Would have preferred to see a Green/Labour alliance personally as this would have been a good political dynamic, seeing as how we have the second highest Green Party councillor numbers in the country. According to Newshopper however it seems the Greens refused cabinet posts.
|Posted on Monday, 15 May, 2006 - 10:17 am: |
It appears the conservatives won't be joining the Mayor's cabinet. The search for cabinet members continues? The Mayor only needs 2 people to form a cabinet.
|Posted on Monday, 15 May, 2006 - 12:07 pm: |
Are now LBC getting delusions of grandeur. They are a local council not a national government
|Posted on Wednesday, 17 May, 2006 - 12:23 pm: |
Here is a list of The Mayor's babes nominated to form his cabinet....will the opposition choose to elect or reject some of them?
As Noel Edmund's would say there are life changing sums of money involved in the outcome.
Meanwhile Cllr. Barrie Anderson (Con) is no longer leader of the Conservatives on the council, for consorting with the enemy.
Lewisham’s executive Mayor, Steve Bullock, has nominated a new Deputy Mayor and Cabinet to advise him in his second term. Cllr Heidi Alexander has been nominated as Deputy Mayor.
The Mayor has nominated a cabinet member to advise him on the work of each of the Council’s five directorates and two cabinet members to champion the needs of older people and the other to oversee community safety. Cabinet nominees will be questioned by councillors at confirmatory hearings on 24 May.
The nominees are:
Cllr Heidi Alexander, who will have responsibility for Regeneration, which includes the environment, waste management and economic development, as Deputy Mayor.
Cllr Helen Klier, who comes into the Cabinet for the first time taking on the Resources portfolio, which includes overseeing Council finances, IT and staffing.
Cllr Chris Best, who takes on responsibility for the Community Services. This includes adult social services, libraries, arts and leisure services.
Cllr Robert Massey, will be responsible for Children and Young People. This covers schools, the youth service and care services for children.
Cllr Peggy Fitzsimmons, will join the cabinet as Champion for Older People.
Cllr Crada Onuegbu remains Champion for Community Safety.
Cllr Susan Wise, who will take on Customer Services, which includes housing for which she was responsible in the outgoing Cabinet.
|Posted on Wednesday, 17 May, 2006 - 01:50 pm: |
I noticed two jobs for Lewisham Council in the Public Sector Jobs Section in Times yesterday.
One was for someone responsible for regeneration ( should ask Dr Who ) Salary GBP 130 k.
I thought max anyone in council would be paid was 50k and even that is high for safe public sector job with good pension etc.
GBP 130 k. How many council taxes have to be collected to pay for this genius. A good size road's worth I would say.
This is a joke.
|Posted on Wednesday, 17 May, 2006 - 02:15 pm: |
Not really. Pay peanuts, get monkeys.
We need good people. Better to spend £130k and get some results than waste £50k with nothing to show - or worse still a load of useless projects on which millions have been wasted. A job like this requires a degree of talent to perform effectively, and one often finds that talented people are recognised as such and do well.
The council also needs quite a number of less high profile but competent professionals - lawyers, accountants and lower down the salary scale, architects, engineers, planners - how is the council supposed to attract and retain any if not prepared to pay something approaching the market rate?
Furthermore I now see that the average price of a terraced house in Lewisham is now £237,135. Are you suggesting that people are not entitled to earn enough to be able to afford somewhere to live?
|Posted on Wednesday, 17 May, 2006 - 03:06 pm: |
I'm unclear about the way in which the Mayoral and Cabinet system works.
All of the Mayor's new nominees for the Cabinet are Labour members (largely because the other parties aren't willing to put representatives forward). The Labour party is in a minority and yet they have an elected Labour mayor and all of the positions on the Cabinet.
Are the other parties able through the scrutiny committees or a meeting of the full council able to vote down major decisions (like the closing of Ladywell Pool or how much money is finally spent on Forest Hill Pools) or does the Mayor have the final say? Are opposition parries able to veto the mayor's nominees for the Cabinet?
If opposition parties are able to veto decisions in this way we are going to have a stalemate on many vital local decisions. If they aren't able to influence decisions - and the Mayor has the final say - what was the point in voting Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Green etc in the local elections?
Can anybody help me out?
|Posted on Wednesday, 17 May, 2006 - 03:53 pm: |
Those members of the Council that are not in the Cabinet scrutinize the Mayor's decisions at Overview and Scrutiny meetings. They can "call in" Mayor's decisions and this means that they can send them back to him together with their remarks.
The Mayor has only the duty to take notice of the remarks but is free to disregard them and go ahead anyway.
The cabinet only helps the Mayor but doesn't vote on the Mayor's decisions, they only vote on contracts but that's not held in public.
The full Council votes the budget and that is the key document, much of the Council's activity mostly follows from this vote.
Still decisions like Ladywell and Forest Hill are up to him and don't need to have the Council ratifying.
"If they aren't able to influence decisions - and the Mayor has the final say - what was the point in voting Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Green etc in the local elections?"
I think that in practice we will all see how all this works now that there is a majority not supporting the Mayor. It's a new system and it still has to be tested in many ways.
In the previous Council it didn't look like the Labour Councillors were much able to influence the Mayor's decisions either.
|Posted on Wednesday, 17 May, 2006 - 04:39 pm: |
Max - many thanks for your clear and precise clarification.
You are correct in saying that this is a new system and that it needs time to "bed down" since it has never operated in a situation in Lewisham where the Mayor's party was in a minority. In theory, what you describe is close to a one-person dictatorship.
I voted Labour in the local election but I am very aware that what the whole electorate in Lewisham voted for was a balance between the various parties. It's difficult to see how this is going to be achieved under the current impasse.
|Posted on Wednesday, 17 May, 2006 - 06:18 pm: |
On the wages for officers I'm with Brian, the fact that public jobs are very safe make all the difference from the equivalent in the private sector.
The average price of a terraced house in Lewisham might as well be now £237,135 but you don't need to pay cash in hand, you can have a mortgage if you say to the bank that you work for the Council.
The Mayor has a basic salary of about £70k and he's doing fine with it I think.
Why should many officers earn so much more?
|Posted on Wednesday, 17 May, 2006 - 10:24 pm: |
...and the bank will want you to be earning how much before they will lend you £237,135 or any reasonable proportion thereof? Are you being deliberately obtuse?
It's quite simple. The job will be a difficult one and will need someone good to do it. This person will probably be working in the private sector. If / because they are any good then they are probably getting quite well paid already. Therefore an appropriate salary has to be offered.
Alternatively I suppose you could just pay £70k for some bloke with a beard who rather than move things forward for the borough seems to have real problems standing still, apparently being unable to manage enough maintenance for the stuff we do have to prevent it rotting away and requiring expensive replacement.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 01:15 am: |
I am not being obtuse at all, it's an argument with two sides.
Some believe that top officers must be very well paid because they carry complex jobs, I believe that this argument must be balanced against other considerations.
Well paid private sector jobs are different from pubic sector in many ways: stress, job satisfaction, safety...
One would also hope that people join the public sector also because they're public spirited, but even if that wasn't the case there are many other things that people consider if given the chance to choose between private and public sector, it's not just the money.
The stress level of a private manager is a million miles away from what is experienced in the public sector.
In the private sector you work for the money and often only for the money, there is usually much less job satisfaction than in a job for a council where you actually interact with the community and you build for real people that you meet regularly.
In the public sector you can get away even with some massive cock-ups. Try do that in the private sector and let's see how long you last for and that is one of the reasons for the high wages.
If working for the Council you don't deliver the mayor will work out a formula that explains that you actually did deliver. This usually starts with the words "with hindsight..."
It's just so different and I believe that those wages that many (because it's really quite a lot of them, it's not just the top officers) receive are quite over the top.
Would it make such a difference if instead of £130k it was £100k?
What do you need £10k per month for?
There's actually two jobs advertised in the Times for Lewisham, one goes for £130k, the other for £100k.
Last year at a Council meeting a Councillor asked about the rising wages of officers and the figure given were impressive. It's really a little army of high earners.
The Council has become a rich men's club.
It may be the only part of the Council budget that escaped cuts.
As for mortgages you can quite easily get a mortgage for a property like that if you can put down some deposit deposit and have a combined income with your spouse of about £70k.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 08:42 am: |
Max,you make my blood boil.
You are making some cut and dried statements here about life as a public sector employee ; do you have recent/current experience of working at a senior level in the public sector in order to back up your comment about different stress levels and financial worth? If you have perhaps you could share it with us. Show me where its so easy and I'll go and work there.
I work in the voluntary housing sector now. Prior to that I worked for a well known private housebuilder. I can tell you now that the stress and performance expectations , and environment of the private sector job was significantly less than the voluntary sector which was and is considerably more complicated vis a vis management of stakeholder interests, funders, and local authority partners, let alone managers, Directors, and Board members.
My partner worked for 10 years for the Royal Mail. I know how hard he worked, how highly qualified he became, how committed he was, and how successful he was in meeting his targets. I also know that after a second period of staff cuts, his workload doubled,management became more bullying, and his stress levels increased,so much so that it led to personal distress and illness. So do not, repeat not, tell me that there is no stress in the public sector.
As far as I can gather, the performance expectations of councils and public sector organisations have increased in recent years beyond all recognition. This is why salaries need to reflect the calibre of the applicant , make it worthwhile for people to join and stay, and enable people to cross previously rigid boundaries. I suspect the real purpose of high LA salaries is actually to keep staff from jumping ship to the private sector where they will get an easier ride.
Please do not insult the thousands of public sector employees by your bland unsubstantiated statements which hold as much water as a leaking sieve.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 11:19 am: |
We seem to have diverged from the election results and their aftermath and perhaps should start another thread about what we expect of public employees and what we should pay them. Whatever one's views on the use of public money, there is no question that public bodies have to compete with the huge salaries on offer in the private sector.
But back to the election - yes, thanks to Max for his explanation. I have heard many rumours about councillors from parties other than Labour being offered Cabinet posts and turning them down. I don't suppose any of them will wish to explain their decisions here, but it would be interesting to know the reasoning behind it. Maybe they feel they will be able to influence decisions better outside the Cabinet. But to me it looks like a cop-out. If they have been elected, they owe it to the people who voted for them to serve the Council in whatever way they may be considered qualified. Cabinet members undoubtedly have influence on what happens, and therefore having such posts could help them to achieve better what their voters want. From my point of view it looks as if they wanted to be elected but don't want any responsibility.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 11:26 am: |
Roz, I have a very different experience from yours.
I admit that I don't have "recent/current experience of working at a senior level in the public sector in order to back up my comment about different stress levels and financial worth".
What I have is a brain and some knowledge of a few situations that I could observe, as you probably do too.
Also, as a taxpayer I feel entitled to an opinion on our Council's top officers' wages/performance ratio.
I work in the private sector and when I am in full swing I live and breathe my work with the occasional break for vital functions.
I am freelance so I have a degree of control on my workload, I pay for it financially and am happy to do so.
I freelance for a big american entertainment company and have done so for almost 20 years now.
The managers that I work for seems to me to be horribly stressed and I never saw one lasting more that a few years in their position.
My parents were both public sector workers, this happened in Italy and they both retired 10 years ago, but I don't think that things change in any way when speaking of the personal satisfaction that one can have from his/her job.
My daddy was in a senior position in a big public legal office, he was also put under a degree of pressure but he also had great personal satisfaction from his job.
I think that my dad's job would have earned him about £100k if he would have worked for Lewisham Council. His wages were much less, but his dedication to his job was not diminished because of this.
I have friends that are managers in big private companies and enjoy salaries like those advertised for those Lewisham jobs and they live some stressful lives. They can be sacked at a moment notice and this is one of the reasons why they are paid so much.
I don't know about the Royal Mail, but my experience observing Lewisham Council is one of a great difference between their dynamic presentation and some of their deliveries.
Maybe I should have specified Lewisham Council instead of generic public sector but as I said I had mostly my parents in mind.
Let me give a few recent examples of cases when the Council's performance fell short of what one would expect by people paid as high in the private sector.
Sample 1. The new school.
You know that the new secondary school project that Lewisham Council is so devoted to last year suffered a three years delay.
The school should have opened in temporary accomodation in the building formerly occupied by Ennersdale Primary in Leahurst Road but one day all this plan folded up.
The reason? The Coucil had submitted an Outline Business Case to Treasury asking funding for the expansion of Northbrook secondary using the same building within the same time-frame instead of one for the new school.
At the sub-committee of Overview and Scrutiny about the issue the Head of Children and Young People (in charge of schools - £130k pa), the Chief Executive (£150k), the Mayor and the Cabinet Member of Education all said that they didn't know of the content of the application and "with hindsight", had they known it they might have made their plans clearer to Treasury.
Sample 2. The Police Station bid.
Do you remember the announcement that the MET decided to sell the Ladywell Police Staition on the open market instead of selling it off market at a discounted price to the Council as they had agreed?
The Chief Executive wrote in his report that he's satisfied by the negotiations that Lewisham Council carried to that purpose.
It came out that those negotiations amounted to two letters expressing interest in the purchase that the Mayor wrote to the MET and that never had and answer.
Still the site was the preferred site for the school project for 16 months, until it was about to become public that they couldn't get it and they switched to the pool option.
Sample 3. The Downham bid.
Did you follow the negotiations for Downham Lifestyles pfi contract?
The Council awarded a gigantic contract to a preferred bidder before negotiating many of the terms of the contract!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This led to years of delay and a deal costing the public purse millions more than expected.
By the way, in the report of the consultant that examined the issue it is reported that the Council forgot to add an accountant in the negotiating team.
These are some of the performances of the very well paid top layer of management of Lewisham Council.
Did their pay packets help them achieve these thriumphs? Would have they done worse had they earned less?
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 11:31 am: |
Looking at the voting patterns ward by ward where Labour had an overwhelming lead such as New Cross, Evelyn and Bellingham the turnout was less than 25%.
Wards where Labour lost seats or another party came a close second the turnout tended to be 30% or more.
I was trying work out if a Mayoral candidate could win by just concentrating on a few wards...and my scientific conclusion is....concentrating your votes in 5-6 wards could win you the Mayor's seat...mmmm...I have a cunning plan.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 11:45 am: |
Melissa, cabinet members don't have a vote on the mayor's decisions.
It's all the Mayor's responsibility.
The Cabinet members effectively work for the Mayor to help him bringing forward his program.
Why would anyone not of the Mayor's party want to join in?
As we just spoke of highly paid efficers, at Mayor and Cabinet meetings the Mayor is advised by both the cabinet members and the officers.
I think that in theory the cabinet members should work to ensure that the officers do what the Mayor wants them to do and to make sure that the officers' advise to the Mayor on what can be done is sound.
Councillors have been elected to serve as members of the Coucil, not as helpers of the Mayor.
As members of the Council they can influence by voting for the budget and scrutinizing the mayor.
Members of the cabinet also vote for the budget but can't scrutinise the Mayor.
If an opposition Councillor agrees on joining the cabinet then he either has agreed some devolved power that normally cabinet members don't enjoy or he/she's happy to give away the possibility of being critical of the mayor.
And that's also one thing they have been elected to do for sure.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 03:21 pm: |
Max seems to have a very poor opinion of opposition members' capacity for independent thought. Don't coalitions operate in other boroughs? To me it still looks like wanting power without responsibility.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 03:35 pm: |
There's not much power attached to the post of Councillor.
In other boroughs they can have coalitions because they don't have an elected Mayor system as we do.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 10:39 pm: |
Reading the council's constitution, it says the Dep. Mayor and Cabinet members are appointed by the Mayor. So not sure what impact the confirmatory hearings on 24 May will have.
The Mayor can delegate decisions to Cabinet Members and unlected officers of the council. As far as I know The Mayor has only delegated some decisions to unelected officers.
One thing I noticed, Area Forums can put items on the Executives (Mayor & Cabinet) agenda for consideration by the Executive. Who and how isn't clear.
According to the constitution the Mayor gives overall political direction to the council. Therefore if the Mayor is of the majority party it's unlikely his/her decisions will be quiered or called in by those councillors.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 May, 2006 - 11:23 pm: |
Area Forums - the last one was some time ago I believe,as was the Forest Hill Steering Group.
If Area Forums are in effect a formal consultation body which can input into Council agendae then there surely needs to be a structure and programme of meetings. So who instigates these and when do we expect the next one to be held?
|Posted on Friday, 19 May, 2006 - 10:14 pm: |
Area Forums currently take place once a year, the last one for Forest Hill was 23 February 2006.
Although the Lewisham website states there will be minutes not one of the forums has published minutes...and I don't recall any mention Forums can put items on the Cabinet's agenda.
Although the constitution states Forums can put matters on the Mayor's agenda it dosen't state how. Also Council committees and the Business Panel can consult local area forums to seek their views on matters that affect or likely to affect the local areas.
The Area Forums Team at the town hall probably have more information.
|Posted on Friday, 26 May, 2006 - 01:47 pm: |
Having run the Save Forest Hill Pools Campaign 10 years ago pre Mayor/Cabinet system, my view is that the community were better able to be informed & represented under the Leader and nominal Mayor. Councillors received all papers confidential & otherwise, met under the committee system in public agendas and minutes could be obtained, and councillors could influence decisions affecting their wards, so could residents by lobbying their councillors. The decisions taken in private,ie Labour Group were a concern. Currently the constitution appears undemocratic, a 2\3rds majority to overturn a mayoral decision... bit hard to achieve.but.. with the changed balance of power decisions can be questioned effectively and the Mayor asked to reconsider. In previous years the ruling Labour Group always wanted an effective opposition to make it more cohesive and focused. I wonder if the Mayor and Cabinet system is cost effective... a guestamate 2 million... and is it good value for money ?. It would appear that we pay the Mayor £70,000 p.a. to rubber stamp Officer reccommendations and as a layman! and to provdide a political steer for the Council.
|Posted on Friday, 26 May, 2006 - 11:04 pm: |
It is true that with this composition Mayor's decisions can be questioned but, until Bullock is in the Mayor's office, it seems unlikely that he will take any notice.
The Sub-committee on Ladywell probed quite in depth, the monstruosity of the decision was revealed and all Bullock said was "people would find disturbing if I would put my personal prejudices of a lay-person before the professional advice of the officers".
I heard it with my own ears...impressive.
That O&S work moved the Chief Executive to write some recommendations and among them he specifies that Councillor don't need to be informed anything more than other residents on what the Council (Mayor and officers) is up to.
This particular recommendation was a completely unsolicited and unjustified dig on the Council. It was passed to mayor and Cabinet and was I believe that it was approved (because he wouldn't dare put his opinion as a lay-person before that of the officers).
Maybe Cabinet members reading this want to tell us what they think of it unless they too don't feel their opinions is worth much after officers gave their professional advice of course.
It's clear that the Mayor and the top officers don't like scrutiny and would like to live without other people's opinion, now that the Council has some diversity they will have to listen to some criticism but then can disregard it altogether and they can do so because of this mayoral system.
In the centre of Lewisham people didn't vote for Bullock. He's been elected thanks to the votes of the labour strongholds in the borough and Ladywell was the issue that caused all those votes to disappear.
Unfortunately, now that with the 37% he's got 100% of the power he can go ahead with his plan that the majority of the residents clearly rejected.
This system doesn't provide representation in power. Only at the Council but that doesn't have power on so many decisions now.
|Posted on Saturday, 27 May, 2006 - 10:47 am: |
As far as I can establish, the Lewisham electorate voted for the new Mayor and Cabinet system in a referendum, hence we have what we have as a result of the democratic process.
However I do not recall thinking at at that time that this new system would create a dictatorship. So are these feelings of discontent due to the fact that the system is perceived to be undemocratic and it was a bad decision to introduce it, or that it could be a good system but it is being run in an inappropriate manner. Or finally, is it a good system in theory but the power is simply with the ' other' party? Very finally, if people are not happy with the system, is there scope to change it?
I have attended Council meetings in the past as an observer and found it interesting to see how the process works. I believe any member of the public can attend any open council meeting as an observer and would personally recommend it.
|Posted on Saturday, 27 May, 2006 - 12:15 pm: |
Roz, you raise a few interesting points and I now try to go through them.
Let's look back at the referendum.
On 18th October 2001 Lewisham voted 51% for the new Mayoral system. Turnout was 18%, the referendum was all run by postal voting
There was a strong debate and many pointed out that this reform would lead to an undemocratic situation.
The referendum for the new system was strongly encouraged by the government and the big lobby group behind it was the New Local Government Network (Steve Bullock and Barry Quirk are on the board and Lewisham Council pays a yearly £10k membership towards it).
Can the system work if run in a better way??
I believe that the constitution needs big changes and this means that I don't believe that the system as it is works.
It only creates a small group of people that run business in private and use the Council's resources to lift up a smoke-screen to shelter their dealings from nosey Councillors or residents.
Attending Council meetings.
I also have attended a lot of Council meetings but all the process I could see was the running of a script to bring forward decisions that have already being taken.
Is there discontent because of the power being with the 'other' party?
I personally don't have a party and don't plan joining any but I don't need to be member or supporter of a party to realize that there's no democracy left in the Council.
You "do not recall thinking at at that time that this new system would create a dictatorship"?
Maybe you thought that as the criticisms were coming from the 'other' parties they couldn't possibly be right.
Was it a bad idea to introduce this system?
I believe it was.
I believe that it can work only where the Mayor is not from the majority party.
The mayor is supposed to implement the policy framework adopted by the Council, but, if the Mayor also contols the group at Council it all becomes meaningful.
That's why Bullock was so pale when group leaded Gavin Moore lost his seat and the party lost the majority.
But I believe that it's still not enough as it takes 2/3 of the Council to block a decision. I also don't know if there's any mechanis to prevent the Mayor to effectively work outside the policy framework.
Can the system be changed?
Would it be better to have this system improved rather than abolished?
There's surely plenty of room for improvement.
|Posted on Saturday, 27 May, 2006 - 01:29 pm: |
sorry, typo, where above I wrote 'meaniglful' I meant 'meaningless'
|Posted on Saturday, 27 May, 2006 - 08:02 pm: |
Max, I can honestly say that at the time of this referendum I was not aware of any ' debate' or criticism at all! Maybe like a lot of people I was trying to cope with the implications of 9/11 and my attention was elsewhere. This website did not exist then, I was not involved in any political party, so relied on info coming in through my door to tell me anything. I almost certainly did not have any literature putting forward another point of view. Unless you happen to be involved politically in something, its difficult as an ordinary individual to find out what is going on locally.
Its a pity that there is no quorum in elections, as an 18% turnout is hardly anything to speak of.
If you think this system can be changed, then how exactly?
|Posted on Saturday, 27 May, 2006 - 10:05 pm: |
I am not an expert on the Lewisham mayoral system, but I am under the impression that it is similar to the system used for the Mayor for London. It is a curious democracy where the majority does not rule!
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 12:05 am: |
I seem to recall that a number of Lewisham Councillors campaigned against Mayor & Cabinet and I recall Roy Hattersley etc. speaking in Lewisham in support of the councillors. I understand that Mayor|Cabinet is working well in Middlesborough, but find it odd that this option has not been taken up more widely, remember that Lewisham was the first Council to adopt this system, so as a role model why has it not been taken up by other Councils. So Roz there was a wide debate at the time, but perhaps people did not fully absorb all the implications and changes it entailed.
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 01:42 am: |
To change the system you have to call for a new referendum.
This can be done either by the Council or by collecting the signatures of 5% of the electorate.
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 10:20 am: |
How many voters does 5% of the electorate translate into?
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 11:24 am: |
The referendum held originally set a very low figure of something like 17,000 votes to go ahead with the elected mayor. The original leaflets to register people for or against the referendum were given out in thousands anyone studying, working or living in Lewisham could complete one, even friends visting other friends in the borough were able to sign up! So would a further referendum offering a choice again improve matters..... Would the electorate prefer a return to local representation by their councillors, certainly with Forest Hill pools it would be beneficial, rather than being reliant on the Mayors advice from officers and his individual decision.
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 01:24 pm: |
Leaving aside some petty and defamatory personal attacks posted on this forum, some members seem to regard the Mayor as a combination of Attila the Hun and Captain Bligh.
The fact that he has a lot of power is not his fault but that of the elected Mayor system - and yes, maybe that should be changed. Max says the Mayor has acted undemocratically in the past, but does not produce hard evidence of that, it is all allegation and innuendo. And since there is no evidence of abuse of power in the past, when the Mayor had a very large majority supporting him in the Council, is it likely that this will occur in the future, when he does not have a majority at all?
Personally I think the Mayor is a reasonable man who has probably been too honest about what can and cannot be achieved.
What do you want in a politician - someone who makes promises that can't be kept, or someone who is honest about achievability, and who is willing to take unpopular decisions in order to achieve good results in the long term? Apparently patience is not something one can expect of the electorate (no surprise, really).
Labour information during the election said that there will be extra swimming pools at Deptford, Central Lewisham, and Downham with Forest Hill refurbished. Several schools will also be rebuilt. Do people have a problem with that? The Mayor's argument was that closing Ladywell was the best among several difficult options and would lead to better provision across the borough in the end. You may not agree with the argument, but how was it undemocratic? (As for Sherwood's point about democracy, only 35% voted Labour in the last General Election.)
In the recent election over 25,000 people voted for the Mayor on first and second preferences.The fact that Max does not agree with the Mayor does not make him a dictator.
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 01:29 pm: |
5% of the total Lewisham electorate (177,942) would be about 9,000 people - that's a lot of signatures.
However, if the Council (rather than the Mayor) can initiate a referendum, then it is not inconceivable that the opposition parties, with a majority on the council, could initiate this, especially if the mayor consistantly refuses to take their advice.
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 02:11 pm: |
Melissa, I feel that you have been disinformed by the Labour Party literature and need to be made aware of the backgound of the New school/Ladywell pool issue.
First, the plan for the pool in Central Lewisham has still to be produced.
Why has this been delayed until after elections?
To replace Ladywell the Council will have to find small fortune somewhere, can it be that that is the reason why they never came up with a plan?
Ane the 2010 date?
"Personally I think the Mayor is a reasonable man who has probably been too honest about what can and cannot be achieved. "
I was present at a Mayor and Cabinet meeting in April 2005 when the officers told the Mayor that before "2011-12" a new leisure centre cannot be built.
It's outrageous that he has failed to acknowledge this and kept on saying a date that is in open contradiction of what he's been told by officers.
The Council rejected all alternative sites, but when the reason for rejection were verified some didn't hold true.
When one of the alternative sites was re-submitted it then was rejected with a different reason, the reason was that now developers had shown interest in it and the Mayor didn't want to put forward plans for a school when developers would like to build houses instead!
The Council had initially identified 4 sites.
One was unrealistic (Lewisham College, too expensive and too far in time).
One, the Ladywell Playtower, was lost due to lack of action though we were all told that things were fine until suddenly the Council switched to the Pool site.
One was opposed by regeneration with the argument that developers might not see a secondary school as a good neighbour. Recently somebody asked all the developers involved if they thought so and they denied, they actually said that it could have been a plus (good schools increase property prices).
There are other possible sites, for example the Catford dogtrack but, as for any other site in Ladywell it would be anyway surplus to requirement.
The local schools are enough provision for the area and are anyway expanding bringing further 300 additional places in the area.
The local Crofton school is used by the LEA as default value for admission.
if you don't get a place at a school somewhere else you go to Crofton.
Every day sworms of secondary school children travel from Deptford and New Cross to Ladywell to go to Crofton and then travel back.
Take away from Crofton those children that don't live nearby and those left will be rattling in the building.
A school in the north would solve a lot of problems, another school in Ladywell is just misplaced.
Also, the Ladywell site is too small for a school.
"You may not agree with the argument, but how was it undemocratic?"
Unlike Forest Hill, people around here have not being consulted at all.
Around the pool the Labour Party has been given the boot for the reason that all they've done was passive resistence to the concerns of the residents. They put their party before their constituents and helped in covering up the shameful background of this story.
"Max says the Mayor has acted undemocratically in the past, but does not produce hard evidence of that"
Hey Melissa, it's two years that I'm backing what I say and I have a website where you can read it all and download copies of all the relevant documents to back what I say.
Please put down those Labour leaflets and read it through.
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 06:44 pm: |
Thank you for the information Max, but the fact that I have thought about the matter and come to a different view from yours does not necessarily mean that I am ignorant of or misinformed about the issues! I will look at your website carefully, and if it changes my mind I will let you know.
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 10:22 pm: |
I was merely pointing out that under most democratic systems a simple majority is required to win the vote. Under the elected mayor system I understand that 2/3rds of the councillors need to vote against The Mayor to overturn his decision. So with a minority of the councillors The Mayor can win the vote!
Under the first past the post system in a general election, there have been governments elected with fewer votes that the opposition.
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 10:27 pm: |
Are people aware that the previous Mayor (Dave Sullivan) offered the Ladywell Swimming Pool site to the Metropolitan Police to build the new Lewisham Police Station? (He did not want the new police station in the shopping centre.)
|Posted on Sunday, 28 May, 2006 - 10:41 pm: |
That's another great story.
The police had bought the land for the police station after the Council advised them to do so.
When they had finally worked out the financing of the building then the Council didn't give planning permission but offered them the swimming pool. Somebody even submitted a planning application for a police station on the pool site though whoever did it was possibly not acting on behalf of the police.
|Posted on Monday, 29 May, 2006 - 11:31 am: |
Just a couple of things - I thought Mr Sullivan had disappeared from the electoral scene many years ago- was he the most recent Mayor before the new structure? He would not have had the same role in any case as the Mayoral role then was nominal.
I don't know the detail about the pool/police station situation, but presumably the Met took professional advice from the Home Office and planners before making a committment to purchase any site. It would have been subject to planning.
Planning is a statutory function and reasons for refusal have to be material rather than political, so I doubt whether this was refused in order to force them to look at the pool site, if that is indeed what Max is suggesting.
I don't understand the issue in respect of the last point- it should be fairly easy to work out who the applicant was from the Lewisham website-its public information.
|Posted on Monday, 29 May, 2006 - 12:12 pm: |
Sullivan was indeed the Mayor before Bullock and half-way through his term became executive Mayor when the referendum passed.
This was after this story of the police station happened.
The story of the Police Station was well documented in the local press and it was reported that the Met bought the site after advice from the Council, probably planning officers I suppose.
I have copies of all the articles and sourced them at the local libraries.
You can read some passages here:
I reported there only those extract from the local press that concerned the pool and the consultation, not those regarding the property of the land now occupied by the police station as it is scarcely relevant to the campaign's purpose.
The planning application is available here:
http://www4.lewisham.gov.uk/acolnet/LEWIS-XSLPages DC/acolnetcgi.exe?ACTION=UNWRAP&RIPNAME=Root.PgeRe sultDetail&TheSystemkey=29364
Deputy for Leisure was Cllr McGarrigle, deputy for Education was Cllr Donnelly, the same people had the same positions in the first Bullock cabinet.
Imagine, if they had managed to use the Ladywell site for the police station then, according to the Council, there wouldn't be any site left in the whole of the borough where to build a school!
|Posted on Monday, 29 May, 2006 - 01:26 pm: |
Oooh we are getting into rather murky water here.
I find curious why the council felt it had to serve notice on allotment holders for an outline planning application by a company that didn't own the land and had lost the bid to build the police station.
Below is a link to a letter by the Romborough Allotments Association written in 2001/2.
|Posted on Monday, 29 May, 2006 - 09:15 pm: |
Thanks Lone Ranger for this link.
This further details included in this narration put the Council's statement that they had some sort of gentlemen's agreement with the Police to buy the Ladywell Police Station off market at a discounted price in its appropriate perspective.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 11:26 am: |
Below is the link to Lewisham's School organisation plan:
The tables on page 14 appear to indicate surplus secondary places in the south, although the north has a shortage of places. It appears that the shortage will be acute in the year 2008/9. This means that a new secondary school is required urgently. I always assumed that the Laywell Swimming Pool site was chosen for the new secondary school as the land is already owned by the Council. Therefore, in theory a new secondary school could be built on the site within about two years.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 11:32 am: |
At last weeks Council AGM the following appointments were made. Anyone know the difference between being called a champion and cabinet member?
Councillor Barrie Anderson took up the post as chair of council.
Cllr Alan Smith was appointed as vice-chair of the council.
The full council appointed Cllr Philip Peake as chair of the overview and scrutiny committee and Cllr Eva Stamirowski as vice-chair.
The following councillors were appointed cabinet members:
Cllr Heidi Alexander, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Deputy Mayor. This includes the environment, waste management and economic development.
Cllr Helen Klier, Cabinet Member for Resources. This overseeing Council finances, IT and staffing.
Cllr Chris Best, Cabinet Member for Community Services. This includes adult social care, libraries, arts and leisure services.
Cllr Robert Massey, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People. This covers schools, the youth service and care services for children.
Cllr Peggy Fitzsimmons, Champion for Older People.
Cllr Crada Onuegbu, Champion for Community Safety.
Cllr Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 12:36 pm: |
Points of clarification to the previous posting, at last week's AGM, Full Council, as in our constitition, appointed Cllr Barrie Anderson as Chair of Council, and Cllr Alan Smith as vice chair. The Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee members only, again as in our constitution, voted Cllr Peake as Chair and Cllr Stamirowski as vice chair.
The Customer Service portfolio includes, as well as housing management-with caretaking and repairs, the private sector, homelessness-our frontline services such as CallPoint and AccessPoint, benefits, registration services, council tax and other public services. It will also include some environment/green services, which will move from the Regeneration portfolio to Customer Services.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 12:37 pm: |
Thanks for the list Tonto.
Do I qualify as being able to be championed by Peggy , I am 57.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 01:08 pm: |
you're right, as it's Council owned they don't need to buy land.
It's not the first time that they do this.
The shortage of secondary school places is all of the Council making and started with a similar occurance.
It started in 2001 with the closure of Telegraph Hill school when the Council took the government money for an academy (oh we're so new labour, we have to have an academy) and closed a secondary school to make space for it.
The search for a site for a school started the following year and the sites proposed by the Council to consultation were 4.
The only one that met the approval of the consultees was Lewisham College on Lewisham Way.
That option was proposed on the assmption that the College would have relocated to the new redeveloped Lewisham Centre within a completely unrealistic time.
As I said another site was ruled out because regeneration objected to it and that left only the two Ladywell sites.
Then Playtower site is almost all of Council's ownership, they only needed to buy the Police Station, when that fell through the Council announced that the Pool had to go.
Given the previous history of the Council's targeting the pool I believe that the other options were red herrings because... the Ladywell Playtower was anyway unrealistic as it is a group of listed building and therefore very difficult and costy to assemble - as Regeneration saw the proposals they should have flagged that the Lewisham College option was extremely unrealistic as any eventual relocation of the college was unlikely to happen for another 5 years after the date assumed by LEA.
Interestingly, the only realistic option of the 4 was curbed by regeneration with that argument about a school not being a desireable neighbour.
There is a need for a school and it is urgent indeed.
The need is extremely acute in the north (intended as New Cross and Deptford).
To divide the borough into north and south is a simplifiacation that is instrumental to the need of the Council to justify a school on Ladywell, like if children living in New Cross were in the catchment area of a school in Ladywell.
Building a school in Ladywell would have detrimental effects on the peak time traffic of the centre of Lewisham, will not solve many problems because it will be a greatly misplaced and quite small school (600 children Max, very limited playground and parking space).
The Council is aware of this, this is an extract from a BSF (Building Schools for the Future) planning meeting held on 11th July 2005:
- 'Planning' (at LBL - Ed) is struggling with what they can say positively in their appraisal paper of the Ladywell site.
- MACE consultants have confirmed that LBL Education had investigated 20 sites and had settled on Ladywell as the preferred option but that suitability issues had since been raised, particularly around the size and the traffic-generating implications of the site.
It is still possible that the plan derails at Planning stage and the Council knows this full well as you can see from this risk register for the project
As the site is on a red route planning doesn't even belong to Lewisham Council.
To build a school in an appropriate place the Council should buy some land and that is omething that they don't want to do.
As I said there are sites that are available to start building now, like the Catford Dog Track, it's not Council owned but is publicly owned by English Partnership but that would be as misplaced as ladywell.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 01:24 pm: |
Technically, Crossways Academy (on the old Telegraph Hill site) in Sprules Road is a secondary school! It just happens to only have sixth form pupils!
Logically, it would have been the best place to build a new secondary school in the north of the borough.
I will try to find the press release from Estelle Morris. I thought it was very revealing and appeared to indicate that Telegraph Hill School was being closed on orders from central government.
Personally, I would have thought the sixth form centre could have been built elsewhere, probably somewhere that sixth form pupils would prefer.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 02:02 pm: |
Is the press release this one:
This is an extract from the Ofsted report that condemned Telegraph Hill School:
"A variety of factors relating to the staffing of the school and the refurbishment of the building, has militated against the smooth running of the school. The school closed in July 1999, and reopened in September with a new headteacher and a majority of new teachers. In the interim period between closure and reopening, builders moved into the buildings and began a refurbishment programme. By the time the new staff arrived, several rooms were out of use, and their contents spread about the school. Some of the pupils' work, together with computer and other equipment, was mislaid has not been found. When pupils arrived at the school, the buildings were still undergoing repair and the resources were depleted. The short time that staff had to prepare was spent clearing classrooms and sorting equipment, at the expense of departmental planning. The refurbishment of the buildings is not yet finished. The rewiring of classrooms and other building work disrupt the school's fragile routines, interrupting lessons and necessitating regular room changes, and provide too many opportunities for pupils to wander the corridors and disturb other classes."
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 02:19 pm: |
Susan: The list came from the Lewisham Website, it may need correcting?
At the hustings meetings I attend all the parties described how green they were, yet the Mayor has decided to stop having a cabinet member for the Environment?
Brian: I doubt people will be queing up to be told officially they look old!
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 03:22 pm: |
That looks like the DfES press release that I saw.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 09:54 pm: |
If the council's arguements and figures are accepted that the North East (Blackheath/Lee Green) has the greatest need for a new school, the results of local elections are interesting.
There surely would be parents determined to ensure the school at Ladywell was built. In a Lee Green by-election the only candidate to support the Mayor's decision not only lost the Labour seat but came third.
At the recent election the electors of those two wards discarded candidates who supported the Mayor's decision.
Going back to the debate about a directly elected mayor I get the feeling the councillors of the largest group don't realise they are not responsible for the Mayor's decisions.
Think of the freedom that should give them.
As for the council it comes across as presenting itself as a corporate commerical concern where marketing and branding is more important than the impact of policy decisions.
|Posted on Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 10:31 pm: |
I think the Council's estimates are likely to be accurate. There is a need for a new secondary school in the north of the borough because a school in the north of the borough (Telegraph Hill) was closed!
I think the problem is that the electorate do not believe they should lose their swimming pool to replace the closed school.
It would seem to be a good idea for the Council to find an alternative site. But the fact that the Ladywell swimming pool site was offered up some years ago seems to raise a question about the future of the swimming pools anyway.
|Posted on Friday, 02 June, 2006 - 01:05 pm: |
This link looks interesting.
http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/lewgreennews/dis play.var.775999.0.councillor_stands_by_email_eject ion.php
We have 3 Conservative councillors and there has just been a coup for their leader!
|Posted on Wednesday, 14 June, 2006 - 02:20 pm: |
Tonight there's the first real test of the new post-election composition of the Council.
Cllr Darren Johnson is proposing a motion to change policy with regard to Ladywell Pool.
It'll be a very interesting Council meeting and the officers already moved a pre-emptive strike with that letter of the Head of Law to Councillors telling them that they cannot take decisions that are not specified as forbidden to the Mayor.
I am not a constitutional expert but I had a read through and it seems to me that there are at least grey areas and that the Council is the right place for policies whilst the Mayor is 'executive', so more or less doubling the Chief Executive role with the added task of fast approval of bits and pieces that old committee meeting system could have made at times difficult.
Anyway, I'll be there tonight and I am advising everybody else to come and support the Council as it asserts its role of representation of the electorate.
|Posted on Friday, 16 June, 2006 - 04:55 am: |
When the system changed to a directly Mayor possibly ward councillors should have been renamed ward representives?
After Wednesday's 'representives' meeting Cllr John Paschoud(Lab) Perry Vale wrote:-
"This all mostly served to prove that Council, whatever the party balance, can only do it's worst and ask the Mayor very politely if he'd look into something. Good for stable progress perhaps, but it can't have looked incredibly democratic to some of the spectators."
|Posted on Friday, 16 June, 2006 - 09:03 am: |
Yes Loneranger ward reresentatives would appear very apt. Having attended the meeting, I thought Stephen Padmore, Labour representative for New Cross very enlightening. He felt the sight for the new school and Ladywell pools should not be 'talked' about. He said the Mayor was in control of Lewisham and that Labour were in the majority. The spectators in the gallery put him right, pointing out a debate was in progress and that Lewisham was a 'hung' Council. New Cross being North of the Boro. were a new school is needed, strange that Stephen Padmore supports the Ladywell site. The Mayor said he will seek further advice on being asked to change his mind. At least our Boro. Solicitor has made clear that other than setting Council Tax, all other decisions are for the Mayor, was that why the spectators in the gallery were yelling 'referendum'.